In 2009, several hundred people gathered in the historic Paramount Theater in Aurora, Illinois for a day of talks about creativity. This wasn’t an ordinary event. Musical performers took the stage between sessions while actors in period costumes roamed the theater lobby during breaks. It was the start of an annual event called STORY, but even more, it was the beginning of a tribe. Ever since that rainy day in October, STORY has grown into a global community of creatives who apply their artistic talents to businesses, non-profits, and cause-based organizations. Each fall, 1,000 of us come together in downtown Chicago for this one-of-a-kind experience.
We’re not interested in professional speakers. We invite creative practitioners - experts who graciously pause their work to join us for a few days. Many are icons to be sure. But our goal is not to invite people you’ve heard of - just those you will. Our intent is to break conventions, question paradigms, and expand your thinking. To add to the experience, we layer these talks with beautiful backdrops, moving soundtracks and inspiring visuals. You’ll find no fill-in-the-blanks or formulas to copy. Our metric for success is what you are inspired to create.
At STORY, it’s not uncommon to see a live human statue or a life-sized marionette puppets interacting with guests. If you’re hungry, you might come across a trail-mix bar, a mix-your-own soda station, or a fire pit where you can roast your own s’mores. One year, we replicated a 1920s-era hotdog cart from which we served Mexican Cokes and moon pies. Our “Surprise & Delight” team is constantly on the prowl looking for ways to make your experience unforgettable. Whether it’s handing out free bouquets of roses at the exits for a loved one at home or serving hacky sacks from silver platters, our aim is to give you a story to tell your friends.
No creative event should be held in a lecture hall. Forget about boring slideshow presentations. Each year, we integrate performances and special features throughout the program. These have included hologram presentations; rainfall on stage; acapella choirs with vocal effects; and short films with a live musical score. We want you to come away enlightened and entertained.
The STORY attendees are made-up of creatives who want to make their mark on the world. They are connoisseurs of ideas but believe that even great ideas are worthless without execution. As innovators, they love to learn across industries, believing there’s much a filmmaker can learn from an entrepreneur, a writer from a musician, and so on. They are the chief creative officers, designers, filmmakers, business owners and photographers who are reshaping the world. With enough Red Bull and collaboration, there is nothing they cannot do.
STORY is hosted in downtown Chicago, one of the most creative cities in the world. This is where Oprah launched her media empire, where Tina Fey honed her comic timing, where David Schwimmer started his theater company after Friends, and where Groupon, Threadless and 37Signals call home. This is our kind of town. And in September 2013, we’re planning a world-class event that goes beyond anything we’ve done before. Get ready for new venues, surprising presenters and a creative experience like no other.
For STORY 2013, we’ve selected multiple venues in Chicago within a few blocks of each other to create a festival experience, including the House of Blues, the Gene Siskel Film Center, the Ivy Room, the Museum of Broadcast Communications and the Cathedral at Dearborn. After all, not all sessions are equal. Some moments call for a crowd, while others require intimacy. Some need to be raucous, while others require reverence. Forget about sitting in one seat the whole time. Come and explore a festival of ideas, performances and environments.
The purpose of STORY is to fuel creatives in environments where they can be inspired and learn from the leaders of creative industries. The theme for 2013 is "A Sense of Place," which speaks not only to the power of place but also your unique contribution to the world. Seating is limited to 1,000 this year.
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